Colonel Hyrum Graff is the head of the Battle School and the primary advocate for Ender’s suitability for command. The novel depicts Colonel Graff as intensely strategic and analytical, to an extent that verges on coldness. The primary tools Graff uses to achieve his ends are manipulation, persuasion, and deception. However, while these attributes typically denote a villain, Graff’s intentions and ultimate goal complicate his role. Much of the novel’s plot and many of its characters serve to explore the philosophical quandary of the ends vs. the means, but none represent this more so than Colonel Graff. Although Colonel Graff makes questionable decisions as head of the Battle School that lead to the stress, endangerment, and ultimate deaths of certain students, his reasons for making these decisions as well as his love for Ender serve as a buffer between Graff and true antagonism. Each minute decision made by Graff throughout the novel is made out of duty to the International Fleet and commitment to the success of the Earth’s war effort. The reader’s insight into Graff’s reasoning, which is provided through excerpts of various conversations between Graff and his colleagues, and the ultimate success of his leadership, suggest that he at least believes his means may be justified by the ends, and complicates any reading of his character as a full-on antagonist.

Furthering the potential for readers to feel sympathy towards Colonel Graff is his transformation from unfeeling adamance to guilt. Initially, Graff is resolved to carry out his decisions without remorse, despite their cruel consequences. However, as Graff’s familiarity with Ender increases, so does his love for the boy and subsequently the guilt he feels about the terror he inflicts upon Ender. Although his guilt does not prevent Graff from carrying out his duty, it does influence his future after Ender successfully ends the war. Although Graff initially faces trial for his questionable leadership of the Battle School, he is eventually forgiven for his crimes and elected as the minister of the Earth’s colonization efforts.